Category Archives: New Zealand

A Year in Review: My 2016 Mazda MX-5 Miata Adventures Statistics

 

Woo Hoo! My first Miata Fiata Radio Episode is now Live! Listen:


Miata Fiata Radio – A Year in Review: 2016 Miata Fiata Adventures


 

There’s still a few days of 2016 left, but I wanted to jot down all the fun things I’ve done with my MX-5 Miata this year and share it with my readers (and soon to be listeners) in an upcoming Miata Fiata Radio thing I’m launching… yes we’ve already launched Miata Fiata talk the podcast, but I wanted to create a supplement where it’s just me talking about my car and my adventures.

So let’s talk numbers…

International MX-5 Events: 8

Domestic MX-5 Events: 18

Mileage done: 17k

Oil changes: 3

Repairs: 2

Modifications: 4

 

International Road Trips:

Pacific Trip:

  • Sydney, Australia [link][link]
  • Auckland, New Zealand [link]

Euro Trip:

Domestic Road Trips:

  • Polar Bear Cruise in Lehigh Valley, PA [link][link]
  • to St. Pete & Sebring, Florida via Orlando and Daytona Beach [link][link][link]
  • to VIR, Virginia [link]
  • to Belle Isle, Detroit, Michigan [link]
  • Watkins Glen International (x5) [link][link]
  • Lime Rock Park (x3) [link]
  • Palmer Motorsports Park [link]
  • New Jersey Motorsports Park (x2) [link]
  • Philadelphia Miata Run [link]
  • Bear Mountain Cruise (x2) [link][link]

California Trips:

  • Mazda North American Operations [link]
  • Miatas as Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca [link][link][link]

Maintenance:

  • Pennzoil Platinum 5w-20 and 0w-20 (x3) [link][link]
  • Pennzoil Platinum High Milage ATF JWS-3309 [link]
  • Mobil 1 ATF power steering fluid flush [link]
  • NGK Laser Iridium Spark Plugs [link]
  • Techron Fuel System Cleaner [link]

Repairs:

  • RX-8 Hubs (wheel bearings) [link]
  • MX-5 OEM Bilstein Shocks/Springs [link]

Modifications:

  • Touch Screen Pioneer Stereo [link][link]
  • Backup Camera [link]
  • Cravenspeed Stubby Antenna [link]
  • Black Aluminum Shift Knob [link]
  • WeatherTech Floor Mats [link]

 

(More will be added as I think of this stuff)

A Year in Review: My 2016 Volunteering in Motorsport Statistics

Update Dec 30, 2016: Episode 1 is Live!


Marshal Radio – A year in Review: 2016 Events Volunteered


It’s been a hell of a year!

As 2016 comes to a close I wanted to reflect on the things I’ve done by the numbers. The statistics. The talking points for my upcoming Marshal Radio Episode #1.

So…

Total events: 28

Countries: 7

States: 11

Circuits: 19

 

 

Countries: (7)

  • Australia
  • New Zealand
  • Canada
  • Belgium
  • Germany
  • the Netherlands
  • USA (11)
    • Texas (x3)
    • Florida (x2) (1 trip)
    • California (x3) (2 trips)
    • Alabama
    • Massachusetts
    • New York (x5)
    • Connecticut (x3)
    • Michigan
    • New Jersey (x2)
    • Pennsylvania
    • Virginia

Circuits: (19)

  • Mount Panorama, Bathurst
  • Hampton Downs
  • Circuit of the Americas (x3)
  • St. Pete Street Circuit (first)
  • Sebring
  • Long Beach Street Circuit
  • Barber Motorsport Park (first)
  • Palmer Motorsport Park (first)
  • Watkins Glen International (x5)
  • Lime Rock Park (x3)
  • Canadian Tire Motorsport Park
  • Detroit Belle Isle Street Circuit
  • Thunderbolt, NJMP (x2)
  • Circuit Park Zandvoort (first)
  • GP Circuit Nurburgring
  • Circuit Spa-Francorchamps
  • Pocono Raceway
  • Virginia International Raceway (first)
  • Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca (x2)

Visited Circuits:

  • Pukekohe (New Zealand) (ride along lap)
  • Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca (Monterey, California) (drove a lap)
  • Daytona International Speedway (Daytona Beach, Florida)
  • Roebling Road (Savannah, Georgia)

Drive-by:

  • Talladega (Alabama)
  • Darlington Motor Speedway/Raceway (South Carolina)

Clubs:

  • CAMS (AU)
  • The Motorsport Club (NZ)
  • OCA (NL)
  • ADAC (DE)
  • RACB (BE)
  • MMS (CA)
  • USA
    • Flagging by Faynesha (paid)
    • VIR (paid)
    • NJMP (paid)
    • Lime Rock (paid)
    • Team Pocono
    • RSI
    • SCCA
      • Lone Star Region
      • CalClub
      • CFR – Central Florida
      • SFR – San Francisco
      • NER – New England
      • Detroit Region

Marshal Roles:

  • F&C – flagging & communication
  • Flag Marshal
  • Fire Marshal (Pit Marshal)
  • Track Marshal
  • Starter/Backup Starter (first pro-race)
  • Spectator Marshal
  • Worker Support

 

Event Types

Cars:

  • PWC (x7)
  • IMSA (x7)
  • WEC (x2)
  • DTM (first)
  • TCR (first)
  • Trans Am (x2)
  • NASCAR (x2)
  • MX-5 Cup (x2)

Endurance:

  • Bathurst 12h
  • Sebring 12h
  • Sahlen’s 6h
  • Spa 24h
  • Nurburgring 6h
  • Lone Star Le Mans 6h

Open Wheel:

  • IndyCar (x6)
  • Formula 3 (x2)
  • Formula 4 (twice didn’t happen)

Motorcycle:

  • MotoGP
  • MotoAmerica

 

 

 

(This post will be updated just as soon as I think of more crap to add)

Postcard from Pukekohe Park Raceway

Though I didn’t get to marshal at Pukekohe Park Raceway on this visit, I was lucky enough to stop by at the circuit and do a few laps around with Anna Scott behind the wheel showing me all the changes since the last time I marshaled there.

There were cars on track the day of my visit, some of them race cars while others just souped up street cars, so I’ll go ahead and include a post about this experience here. Why not?

The Sunday of my visit was a private track rental by what looked to be a Nissan enthusiast group with plenty of great looking Skyline GT-R’s, Sylvia’s and other Japanese cars in attendance.

pukekohe park raceway visit 3

pukekohe park raceway visit 4

Judging by the burned paint on the bumper I’m going to guess this car means business!

Naturally I was most interested to see some souped up MX-5’s at this track rental, but it was definitely a different crowd. We did spot one red GT PRHT in attendance and I rushed over to say hello. The owner, a member of the MX-5 Club of  New Zealand turned out to be the father of one of the Skyline racers there. Nice to see family supporting their kid’s participation in Motorsport. And more importantly instead of having them hoon on the street, they actually join their son doing it the correct way, racing around a race track.

pukekohe park raceway visit 5

pukekohe park raceway visit 7

pukekohe park raceway visit 6

A great car indeed 🙂

pukekohe park raceway visit 8

pukekohe park raceway visit 9

pukekohe park raceway visit 10

Anna was kind enough to give me a tour of the facilities which have really grown since my last visit. Race Control had moved from a little shack like structure to a proper building. The track is now lined with barriers plucked directly from the Hamilton street circuit where Australian V8’s used to race, and in general this little horse racing track looks like a world class facility. Shame I didn’t get a chance to actually marshal there this time…

pukekohe park raceway visit 2

pukekohe park raceway visit 1

A few days earlier, while my Aussie friend Ian was dropping me off at Anna’s house, we made a drive by past Pukekohe and sure enough we spotted another MX-5 entering the track. Much like Australia the MX-5’s are right in their element in New Zealand, the country has a perfect weather for owning a Roadster!

pukekohe park raceway visit 11

Pro Photos Marshaling at Hampton Downs Thanks to Alison Hogg from Media77

Way to make me feel like a celebrity Alison Hogg!

I’m really grateful to have a professional photographer friend who was willing to take a few action shots of me marshaling at Hampton Downs for the Auckland Car Club raceday.

Check them out:

media77 allison hogg photo from hampton downs 9

media77 allison hogg photo from hampton downs 8

media77 allison hogg photo from hampton downs 6

media77 allison hogg photo from hampton downs 5

media77 allison hogg photo from hampton downs 4

media77 allison hogg photo from hampton downs 3

media77 allison hogg photo from hampton downs 2

media77 allison hogg photo from hampton downs 1

Check out Media77 facebook page: www.facebook.com/Media77nz

If only I had a private photographer taking pictures of me at various race tracks I would have never gotten in trouble for doing it myself.

Thank you Alison!

Postcard from Auckland Car Club Racing at Hampton Downs

You can’t volunteer an event in Australia without coming over and marshaling in New Zealand. So since I was in the neighborhood I decided to pop up for one of the Kiwi racedays at Hampton Downs.

I have been planning to come back to New Zealand for ages, and I’m really glad this opportunity presented itself. Anna Scott the flag chief for the Motorsport Club of NZ invited me to spend the weekend with her family and I couldn’t be in better hands on my visit. It was a bit sad to see fewer marshals at the track than the last time I was there. Even the race day itself was shorter than usual, instead of the full weekend of racing Auckland Car Club crammed all of their practices and races into one Saturday. But the action was still there and thanks to an awesome post assignment I was having a hell of a good time.

hampton downs auckland car club raceday 18

hampton downs auckland car club raceday 19

I was paired to work with Peter for the weekend who was really great and welcoming to a “newbie” which made my day. We were pretty lucky to have a few incidents including minor spins, cars coming to a stop suffering mechanical failures as well as a side to side metal to metal impact resulting in a spin which I had to write a report on. All in all we were kept busy the whole day.

hampton downs auckland car club raceday 20

hampton downs auckland car club raceday 17

I asked Tom and Anna to make a pit stop on the way to the track so I can get some of my favorite track food to go: the Kiwi Meat Pies, which were especially delicious once I worked up some appetite working trackside.

hampton downs auckland car club raceday 7

hampton downs auckland car club raceday 8

Once lunch came around, Peter and I were picked up by the Porsche Cheyenne Course Car and brought into the paddock area where I took the opportunity to take some pictures of the race cars and all the improvements done to the track since my last visit. The garages have really been build up, adding a second level. Race control was completed. And one of the most visible additions was the actual expansion of the track adding quite a few more corners for Anna to staff once the track is fully finished.

hampton downs auckland car club raceday 6

hampton downs auckland car club raceday 5

hampton downs auckland car club raceday 23

hampton downs auckland car club raceday 1

hampton downs auckland car club raceday 2

hampton downs auckland car club raceday 3

hampton downs auckland car club raceday 4

hampton downs auckland car club raceday 9

hampton downs auckland car club raceday 10

hampton downs auckland car club raceday 11

hampton downs auckland car club raceday 12

hampton downs auckland car club raceday 13

hampton downs auckland car club raceday 14

hampton downs auckland car club raceday 15

hampton downs auckland car club raceday 16

hampton downs auckland car club raceday 27

hampton downs auckland car club raceday 28

hampton downs auckland car club raceday 29

hampton downs auckland car club raceday 30

I was really happy to see a few MX-5’s racing with the other Japanese cars in their class. Mazda’s are very popular in New Zealand although in the past it was the RX-7’s and RX-8’s that dominated the car scene. Still nice to see Miatas race everywhere I go to marshal.

hampton downs auckland car club raceday 31

hampton downs auckland car club raceday 32

Happy to also be served L&P – my favorite Kiwi drink at the end of day party for the marshals.

hampton downs auckland car club raceday 33

hampton downs auckland car club raceday 34

After lunch it was back to the office at Post 2. My favorite tool to use was the Hampton Downs lighting system. A very simple controller tethered to the Light Panel via a cable. The functionality is simple and intuitive. You push and hold the switch into the direction of the flag you wish to display and it stays on while you’re holding the switch. Upon release the light turns off. Yellow flag up, Double yellow down. Blue flag up and White flag down. Using Yellow forces a Green at the next post automatically. Debris flag can be switched on and left to display, though the way it shows on the pane is by alternating flashing lights of Yellow and Red which some drivers apparently found rather confusing. For a few incidents where the track was more than 50% blocked I found it a bit clumsy to try to wave a both yellow flags and hold the double yellow button simultaneously. But I would imagine as simple as this system is it would cost a fraction of what the F1 light system cost, and I have a feeling this one is far more efficient.

hampton downs auckland car club raceday 21

hampton downs auckland car club raceday 22

One of the coolest things I saw on this visit was during a recovery. The tow truck driver that had already freed one car from the gravel trap, pulled up to the second disabled car by our post and hooked it to the bumper of the first car. He then proceeded to drive the train of stricken cars back to the paddock. I thought that was rather efficient making due with what they have and not wasting time waiting for another tow truck to free up to do the recovery.

hampton downs auckland car club raceday 26

As the day was getting hotter and marshals were getting tired, the Motorsport Club did an ice cream run to cool us off. And it really worked wonders. Tip Top the kiwi ice cream brand is actually quite creamy and milky, much better than the water based ice creams we typically get in the US.

hampton downs auckland car club raceday 25

And so another wonderful weekend spend at a race track was in the books. I was super happy to have had this opportunity to marshal even if just for one day. It totally made my visit to NZ worthwhile!

My next trip to New Zealand will hopefully involve a visit to a new circuit down on the South Island – Highlands Motorsport Park.

Mazda MX-5: Fish & Chips Run with MX-5 Club of New Zealand Members from Auckland CBD towards Coromandel

back to: South Pacific MX-5 Miata Road Trip Overview

f-australiaMX-5 Shopping in the Blue Mountains, NSW, Australia

f-australiaMX-5 Road Trip from Kirribilli to Balmoral, NSW, Australia

MX-5 Road Trip from Papakura towards Coromandel, NZ

MX-5 Hire Cars on Holiday in Rarotonga, Cook Islands


No sooner was one MX-5 Fish & Chips run over in Aussie another one was underway with the Kiwi Roadster owners in New Zealand.

I got incredibly lucky once again finding a local NZ MX-5 owner willing to show me around on a weekday upon my arrival. Lloyd offered to take me on a 300+ km Road Trip around the North Island. We were hoping a few other MX-5 Club of New Zealand owners would chime in but it was the middle of the week  and many were busy with everyday life. The initial plan was to go around the Coromandel Peninsula, a trip that could have taken all day based on the Auckland traffic, so instead we compromised a little and Lloyd surprised me with an awesome end to the trip: a sunset dinner cruise on a fellow MX-5 owner’s boat. It was pretty incredible!

As I was flying over from Australia Lloyd e-mailed me that another fella with an MX-5 would be picking me up in the morning: Ralph. Now we had two cars for our little adventure and every time we stopped to take pictures I’d swap cars, getting plenty of seat time in two JDM imported NC’s while chatting the ears off of their drivers.  These were the first two proper “Roadsters” I got to experience, Ralph’s was fairly stock while Lloyd’s had the Mazdaspeed treatment complete with a full body kit, exhaust and some other goodies hiding underneath… I call the cars Roadsters because they are in fact legitimate Japanese Domestic Market – JDM Roadsters that were imported to New Zealand second hand, as many often do. That was a little added caveat to my experience.

But enough talking, here’s some photos (of which I took a million):

mazda mx-5 new zealand road trip auckland to coromandel 1

mazda mx-5 new zealand road trip auckland to coromandel 2

mazda mx-5 new zealand road trip auckland to coromandel 3

mazda mx-5 new zealand road trip auckland to coromandel 4

mazda mx-5 new zealand road trip auckland to coromandel 5

mazda mx-5 new zealand road trip auckland to coromandel 6

mazda mx-5 new zealand road trip auckland to coromandel 7

mazda mx-5 new zealand road trip auckland to coromandel 8

mazda mx-5 new zealand road trip auckland to coromandel 9

mazda mx-5 new zealand road trip auckland to coromandel 11

Based on the GPS geo-tagging function on my phone/photos I believe the route we took included the following coordinates: Auckland CBD > Papakura > Waiuku > Tuakau > Les Batkin Reserve > Waikato River > Pukekawa > Churchill > Lake Whangape > Rangiriri West > Rangiriri > Te Kauwhata  > Maramarua > Miranda > Kaiaua > Whakatiwai > Orere Point > Tapapakanga Regional Park > Kawakawa Bay > Kawakawa-Orere Road Reserve > Papakura

mazda mx-5 new zealand road trip auckland to coromandel 12

mazda mx-5 new zealand road trip auckland to coromandel 10

mazda mx-5 new zealand road trip auckland to coromandel 13

mazda mx-5 new zealand road trip auckland to coromandel 14

mazda mx-5 new zealand road trip auckland to coromandel 15

mazda mx-5 new zealand road trip auckland to coromandel 16

mazda mx-5 new zealand road trip auckland to coromandel 17

mazda mx-5 new zealand road trip auckland to coromandel 18

mazda mx-5 new zealand road trip auckland to coromandel 19

Yes, it’s an actual Eunos Roadster when that was a thing in Japan.

mazda mx-5 new zealand road trip auckland to coromandel 20

mazda mx-5 new zealand road trip auckland to coromandel 21

mazda mx-5 new zealand road trip auckland to coromandel 22

mazda mx-5 new zealand road trip auckland to coromandel 23

mazda mx-5 new zealand road trip auckland to coromandel 24

mazda mx-5 new zealand road trip auckland to coromandel 25

mazda mx-5 new zealand road trip auckland to coromandel 26

mazda mx-5 new zealand road trip auckland to coromandel 27

mazda mx-5 new zealand road trip auckland to coromandel 28

mazda mx-5 new zealand road trip auckland to coromandel 30

I’m so grateful to Lloyd and Ralph for hanging out with me for a day and putting so many k’s on their cars to show me a good time. Thanks guys!

mazda mx-5 new zealand road trip auckland to coromandel 29

mazda mx-5 new zealand road trip auckland to coromandel 31

mazda mx-5 new zealand road trip auckland to coromandel 32

mazda mx-5 new zealand road trip auckland to coromandel 33

mazda mx-5 new zealand road trip auckland to coromandel 34

mazda mx-5 new zealand road trip auckland to coromandel 35

mazda mx-5 new zealand road trip auckland to coromandel 36

mazda mx-5 new zealand road trip auckland to coromandel 37

mazda mx-5 new zealand road trip auckland to coromandel 41

mazda mx-5 new zealand road trip auckland to coromandel 38

mazda mx-5 new zealand road trip auckland to coromandel 39

mazda mx-5 new zealand road trip auckland to coromandel 40

mazda mx-5 new zealand road trip auckland to coromandel 42

mazda mx-5 new zealand road trip auckland to coromandel 43

mazda mx-5 new zealand road trip auckland to coromandel 44

mazda mx-5 new zealand road trip auckland to coromandel 45

mazda mx-5 new zealand road trip auckland to coromandel 46

mazda mx-5 new zealand road trip auckland to coromandel 47

mazda mx-5 new zealand road trip auckland to coromandel 48

mazda mx-5 new zealand road trip auckland to coromandel 49

mazda mx-5 new zealand road trip auckland to coromandel 50

mazda mx-5 new zealand road trip auckland to coromandel 51

mazda mx-5 new zealand road trip auckland to coromandel 52

mazda mx-5 new zealand road trip auckland to coromandel 53

mazda mx-5 new zealand road trip auckland to coromandel 54

mazda mx-5 new zealand road trip auckland to coromandel 55

mazda mx-5 new zealand road trip auckland to coromandel 56

mazda mx-5 new zealand road trip auckland to coromandel 57

mazda mx-5 new zealand road trip auckland to coromandel 58

mazda mx-5 new zealand road trip auckland to coromandel 59

mazda mx-5 new zealand road trip auckland to coromandel 60

mazda mx-5 new zealand road trip auckland to coromandel 61

mazda mx-5 new zealand road trip auckland to coromandel 62

mazda mx-5 new zealand road trip auckland to coromandel 63

mazda mx-5 new zealand road trip auckland to coromandel 65

mazda mx-5 new zealand road trip auckland to coromandel 66

mazda mx-5 new zealand road trip auckland to coromandel 67

mazda mx-5 new zealand road trip auckland to coromandel 68

After posing for all these pictures and sorting stuff to upload to Facebook, Lloyd and Debbie loaded me up into their other car and headed back up towards Auckland for our 7pm launch. Where another MX-5 owner was waiting for us with his family to share a nice sunset dinner cruise out in the Auckland harbour. What a way to end an already awesome day? Really an amazing experience.

auckland harbour sunset dinner cruise with mx-5 owners 2

auckland harbour sunset dinner cruise with mx-5 owners 1

auckland harbour sunset dinner cruise with mx-5 owners 3

sunset over auckland from the harbour

Huge thanks to the always hospitable Kiwis for making my journey to New Zealand an incredible one. I am forever grateful!

Mazda MX-5: 500+ Photo Road Trip – South Pacific Visiting MX-5 Owners in Australia, New Zealand & Cook Islands

Another year and another massive MX-5 Road Trip… this time to the South Pacific. I had the pleasure and privilege to visit the Mazda Roadster community  in Australia, New Zealand and kinda sorta in Rarotonga, the Cook Islands.

In this post I will share my experience from this trip including the contact info for the local clubs in each country as well as a few rental facilities that have MX-5’s to rent (or hire) on your next trip to paradise that is the Cook Islands. As with my Southeast Asia MX-5 Road Trip last year I will break down this post into individual threads that cover each experience separately:

South Pacific Miata Road Trip Overview

f-australiaMX-5 Shopping in the Blue Mountains, NSW, Australia

f-australiaMX-5 Road Trip from Kirribilli to Balmoral, NSW, Australia

MX-5 Road Trip from Papakura towards Coromandel, NZ

MX-5 Hire Cars on Holiday in Rarotonga, Cook Islands


 

There’s no way I could possibly share all 500+ photos from this adventure but many of them are available for viewing on my facebook page. Some of the best shots are shared here with my commentary. I had such a blast on this trip I am extremely eager to start planning the next one.

So how did I go about arranging all the meets and events?

Simple. I researched the individual MX-5 groups and clubs through the Miata.net forum and Facebook.

In Australia I reached out to the MX-5 Club of New South Wales and specifically the Sydney Chapter which is a very active community of owners that meet up regularly for various club activities from dinners, cruises, racing and skidpads/drifting as well as major events like 50+ car meets and cruises around the country.

I met Jean Cook on my first day in Australia while traveling to Bathurst and just a few days later she embarked on a rather long journey down to Tasmania for a National MX-5 meet there that featured over 100 cars.

Special thanks to Jean Cook for giving me the opportunity to take some photos of her beautiful ND MX-5:

sydney mx-5 owner first order of business on the way to bathurst

The next thanks I want to give is to Cameron from Blue Mountains Mazda who sold Jean her ND. Cameron was nice enough to show me around the dealership on my way back to Sydney from Bathurst, I even brought an Aussie spec brochure back home from this visit:

mx-5 road trip australia blue mountains mazda roadsters 4

Huge thanks to Guy Cole for organizing the MX-5 cruise from Kirribilli to Balmoral where I got to meet the owners of at least 20 MX-5’s that showed up to this event. What a great experience that was. By the same token I would like to thank Chris Stacey for giving me a ride during the cruise in his beautiful red ND MX-5.

mazda mx-5 fish & chips run mx-5 club nsw sydney chapter kirribilli to balmoral 60

mazda mx-5 fish & chips run mx-5 club nsw sydney chapter kirribilli to balmoral 5

In New Zealand I reached out to the MX-5 Club of New Zealand through the Miata.net forum and facebook. Their club also has major events around the North and South Islands. The last get together at the Auckland area Mazda dealer saw over 50 MX-5’s show up.

For my little event only two owners came along for the ride: Ralph and Lloyd, with Lloyd organizing the whole trip for me including a nice sunset dinner cruise with a fellow MX-5 owner from the Auckland harbour.

Thank you Ralph and Lloyd!

mazda mx-5 new zealand road trip auckland to coromandel 33

mazda mx-5 new zealand road trip auckland to coromandel 36

In Rarotonga, Cook Islands I didn’t get a chance to actualy chat with any Miata owners. But I did source out a few places to rent one. Avis in Avarua apparently had a Green NC to rent but they wouldn’t let me see it before forking out $80/day to rent it. Too bad!

cook islands rarotonga aitutaki mx-5 car hire rental 1

This was definitely a trip of a lifetime and I’m totally looking forward to more trips like this in the future…

Fun in the South Pacific: the Debrief – Australia, New Zealand and the Cook Islands

Another trip of a lifetime is in the books! Although I shouldn’t call it “lifetime” because I know sooner or later I’ll be departing on other one. In fact with an amazing trip of a lifetime just a few months ago to Southeast Asia, I would call this the trip of the year, or at the very least trip of the month: February 2016!

This post will be a brief overview: a debrief, of the trip overall followed by a number of specific posts about the individual events I’ve marshaled, the experiences I had hanging out with the local MX5 clubs and catching some sun in some very exotic places as part of the vacation that tied this trip together. I had such a blast!

To start, I flew to Australia via Hawai’i. And unlike my first visit there a few years ago after Korean Grand Prix, I decided to get off the plane at Honolulu and actually spend the night in Waikiki Beach. The Polynesian theme for the rest of the trip truly began there. Besides enjoying an amazing sunset that I shared with a few folks at home via Facetime, I got to experience some of the local cuisine just outside of the touristy area. I loved it!

ono hawaiian foods poipoi taro pork dried fish
A traditional meal from Ono Hawaiian Foods just minutes walking distance from Waikiki Beach… the dish featured some pork wrapped in taro leaves and poi poi along with dried fish and all the fixing’s.

Of course an overnight stay in Paradise wasn’t enough, at all! But it was just a start to my South Pacific adventure. I’m kind of glad I broke the trip in half because some of these longer flights of 10+ hours have started getting to me, tiring me out completely. This time I was travelling with an extra handicap I hadn’t encountered on previous trips. I had a flare up of Gout Arthritis just a few days before leaving and my right foot was in terrible pain, something akin to walking on glass. The pain wouldn’t really go away for the entire trip but since I couldn’t do much about it I just learned to live with it.

Next stop: Sydney! The flight arrived in the early evening and after a quick clearance at Immigration I headed to the CBD to get some sleep before heading out for Bathurst early the next morning. Like Waikiki I decided to stay in a hostel near Central station for convenience and it worked out really well for me.

sydney mx-5 owner first order of business on the way to bathurst
First order of business while in Australia: meeting an MX-5 owner from the Club of NSW, Sydney Chapter. What an incredible experience!

In the morning I managed to arrange a lift with someone from the MX-5 community in Sydney. It’s really nice to see how close the Miata community is to Motorsport and specifically marshaling. The lady who’s car I got to check out on my first day in Australia volunteers as a Steward while her son is a flag marshal, who was kind enough to let me tag along for the two hour drive to Mount Panorama. While I could have taken the train all the way to town, I found it far more interesting to have some company along the way. It was especially interesting when we were on the hunt for Meat Pies for lunch while passing through Lithgow. That’s where I spotted something I really wanted to see on my trip, a Miata trailer. The owner drove past us as we parked up near the bakery and while he was stopped on a red light I tried to snap a fuzzy shot of his car.

lithgow mx-5 with a trailer
one of Paul Byers creations… an MX-5 trailer made from the rear quarters of an actual MX-5… looks bloody awesome!

I will talk about my experiences at Bathurst 12 hour and Mount Panorama in a separate post but suffice to say it was an interesting experience. While it wasn’t my first visit there, it was definitely a little different from before. For the first time I camped right at the track. A fellow Aussie marshal Paul from Victoria was kind enough to supply me with a comfortable tent, some pillows and a sleeping bag, which helped a lot so I didn’t have to drag all that stuff with me. Not only that he was our designated driver taking a whole group of us out to dinner in town every night, which was fantastic. It was the first time I consistently stuffed my face with proper Australian food including roast lamb and a variety of other local pub dishes.

mount panorama bathurst 12 hour 2016 drive down the front straight
Paul Kelly driving us around every night after the end of track activities.
bathurst rsl pub food during bathurst 12 hour
Australia’s finest pub food in Bathurst.
bathurst 12 hour audi gt3 on mount panorama hells corner
Every year there’s a team promoting tourism NSW and Australia, this year there was a Terra Australis Audi complete with an aboriginal photo shoot that we stumbled upon in pit lane.

After the event I headed back to Sydney for a few more nights in a CBD hostel. I had a few things planned but the stay was way too short. Luckily I did manage to squeeze in a lunch at Bondi Beach which I was really looking forward to as well as a nice MX-5 cruise from Kirribilli to Balmoral Beach with a meeting spot just under the Sydney Harbour Bridge which was pretty spectacular. So many cars showed up! I was pleasantly surprised and very humbled to see so many owners give up their weeknight for a little cruise along the Northern Sydney suburbs for some fish and chips. Again I will write more about it later but I can’t express my gratitude enough to have had this opportunity!

sydney fish and chips run for the mx-5 club of nsw sydney chapter
Tuesday night Fish & Chips run from Kirribilli to Balmoral Beach, with a meeting spot under the Sydney Harbour Bridge and Sydney CBD and Opera House in the background.

Next stop: Auckland! A short hop and skip over the ditch (as they refer to the Tasman Sea) and I was in New Zealand. The flight arrived after midnight and I was off to my hostel in the CBD. Early next morning another MX-5 meetup awaited me, and after a short 4 hour sleep I was in a beautiful JDM-import Roadster heading to Papakura for my next adventure which I’ll describe in it’s own post. In a way it was another Fish & Chips run but this one lasted for over 300km visiting some scenic and twisty roads across the entire Northern Island from West (Waihu) to East (Coromandel Peninsula).

new zealand mx-5 owners showing me around the north island waikato coromandel
MX-5 Club of New Zealand MX-5 members Lloyd and Ralph took me around on a day trip showing me the twisty parts of the North Island heading towards Coromandel for fish & chips.

As if this incredible two car road trip (as I jumped out from one car to the other at every stop we made), couldn’t get any better – it did! The day ended on a boat in Auckland Harbour where we had a nice dinner joining another MX-5 owner while he and his family celebrated the mum’s birthday. This was my first time on the water on the North Island something I was putting away until later while living in Auckland and never actually following through with, until now. It was really amazing.

sunset over auckland from the harbour
A sunset dinner cruise with a bunch of MX-5 owners celebrating a birthday. What a way to end my Kiwi MX-5 road trip!

Believe it or not I actually got to marshal while in New Zealand. It was only a one day meeting for Auckland Car Club at Hampton Downs but I certainly got my money’s worth with plenty of spins and spills on Turn 2 where I was lucky enough to work. It was such a good pleasure to catch up with a bunch of people whom I started my marshaling with while living in New Zealand a few years ago. And it was nice to see the improvements done and are currently ongoing to Hampton Downs under Tony Quinn’s ownership.

Besides Hampton Downs, Anna Scott – who hosted me for the weekend, took me to Pukekohe Raceway Park and showed me the improvements done there after Aussie V8 Supercars moved to their event there from the streets of Hamilton. I had such an incredible time I’ll have to write more about it in another post.

visit to pukekohe raceway park the new home of aussie v8 supercars in new zealand
Anna Scott the flag chief for the Motorsport Club of NZ taking me on a private tour of the upgraded Pukekohe Raceway Park including a visit to Race Control and a few laps around the circuit.

Although I had already spent two weeks on the road which seemed to have gone by in a flash, I still had one more exotic stop on this incredible journey: Rarotonga in the Cook Islands! I was really looking forward to this visit because it was something I planned to do while living in New Zealand back in 2012. Now the dream came true. I didn’t know what to expect but the reality surprised me in a very pleasant way. The tiny island of Rarotonga was very clean, friendly and welcoming for my visit. The resort I booked (my first stay in a proper hotel on this trip after all the hostels in Hawaii, Sydney and Auckland I decided to splurge and pamper myself) was fantastic. I got to tour the island, sample some delicious Polynesian food and completely relax on the pristine beaches with baby blue water crashing over the corals just off shore. What an experience!

kia orana cook islands rarotonga on my rainy arrival
Kia Orana Cook Islands! I arrived on a rainy day in a cyclone season thinking that my trip would be rained out but the weather was perfect during my stay on Rarotonga.
rarotonga cook islands exotic flowers
I was very impressed at how clean and organized Rarotonga was, it was very exotic!
rarotonga cook islands conoe with glass bottom snorkeling boat in a lagoon
The beaches were amazing! The water crystal clear. I had such a great time relaxing.
mazda mx-5 roadster rental car hire JDM import at Rarotonga Cook Islands
Of course I managed to spot a bunch of MX-5’s, mostly NA and NB’s.

The trip home at the end of this vacation took me back through Auckland where I was a total zombie while shopping for souvenirs to take home. Luckily I was able to meet up with friends for lunch and dinner and that kept me awake long enough for some much needed sleep on my 11 hour flight back to LAX.

Huge thanks to all the people that helped me along on this trip. I couldn’t have done this without you!

Mazda MX-5: Hey Sydney & NSW Miata Owners! Come Join Us for a Fish & Chips Run from Kirribilli to Balmoral

Dear friends in Australia, New South Wales, Sydney Area…  come join me and the MX-5 Club Sydney Chapter on a little fish & chips run from under the Sydney Harbour Bridge in Kirribilli to Balmoral.

The meet and greet was the idea of one of the Sydney MX-5 owners from the club, but I wanted to extend the invitation to anyone else finding this blog post on Google or whatever search engine you use. If you’re in Sydney and FREE Tuesday afternoon February 9th at 6pm you should totally come out and enjoy a beautiful sight of a bunch of Miatas and an American guy running around with his phone taking a million pictures.

Check out this link on facebook for details: https://www.facebook.com/events/204635939879450/

Apparently the Aussie MX-5 owners do this quite frequently, which makes me incredibly jealous because Miata meets in New Jersey are few and far between. But oh well…

I’d also like this opportunity to remind folks that I’ll be in Bathurst from February 4th to the 8th and I’m sure there will be a few MX-5 owners there, possibly doing a parade lap around the famous circuit.

I’m also a little slow on organizing a meet-up in Auckland, New Zealand so if anyone is interested from my Kiwi readers please get in touch and we’ll organize a nice get together in the CBD or one of the suburbs.

In addition to that I have had little success finding MX-5 owners in the Cook Islands, as I’ll be visiting Rarotonga for a few days at the end of my trip. Again… interested? Get in touch!

I’m so looking forward to this trip!!!

kirribilli australia sydney

MX-5 Miata Road Trip

I launched a new Facebook Page for my favorite pastime: MX-5 Miata Road Trip’s: www.facebook.com/MiataRoadTrip

I’ve been blogging quite frequently about the trips I’ve taken in my NC Miata, mainly to get to a race track Upstate New York or up to New England. But that hobby is about to take me internationally, with a trip to Southeast Asia booked in early December 2015 and another to the Pacific in February 2016. I’m making it a priority to meet up with any and all MX-5 owners I can on the road. Hence the MX-5 International Road Trip.

I’m hoping that the facebook page would allow me to make new connections as well as to share some pictures from my meetups without mixing the content with my Motorsport hobby that I also blog about frequently: Marshal Cam (#MarshalCam) as well as the Foodie Tours that I enjoy very much and also blog about separately. I have a feeling people visit this site for each of the things that interest them most and perhaps not all of them want the Marshaling, Foodie Tours and Miata stuff mixed.

For the International trips, except of course for my future drive up to Canada, I won’t be taking my car. So my goal is to meet other owners and take as many pictures and videos of their cars as they would let me. I am also planning on perhaps renting a few MX-5’s and sharing those experiences in the blog and on the facebook page as well. I think it would be pretty awesome to read and based on a few searches I did thus far, there’s nothing like it out there (except one kiwi page from a few years ago that promoted MX5 Roadtrip’s – it was hard to find perhaps because of “roadtrip” used as one word).

So hopefully this works!

Go ahead and like the page to have all that content pop up on your Facebook feed automatically. www.facebook.com/MiataRoadTrip

mx-5 rmiata oad trip